Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
June 26, 1998

Regents OK continued work on residence plan

by Anne Dolan

The State Board of Regents last week gave Iowa State the green light to proceed with planning for the first phase of a multi-year building master plan for the residence department.

The three-plus year plan is designed to give students more options in university-sponsored housing, including furnished apartments, suites and traditional "dormitory" rooms. It also aims to relocate and expand dining options to give students flexibility and serve other campus clients; and reduce, by almost half, the department's deferred maintenance backlog, currently about $90 million.

"Our buildings simply don't offer the kind of space today's students want," said Randy Alexander, director of the residence department. "We're trying to serve students of the '90s in buildings of the '40s."

The first three years of the plan will cost $105.4 million. Other new construction, demolition and renovation work is planned beyond three years, but no timeline or budget has been established.

Much like the concept now in place, future residence buildings will be organized around neighborhoods: Union Drive and Richardson Court neighborhoods, targeting but not exclusively for freshmen; Hawthorn Court and Towers neighborhoods, for upper division single students; and Schilletter Village and University Village, for student families. Each neighborhood will have academic support space, such as computer labs, advising offices or classrooms; dining and grocery options; and recreation space.

"One of the reasons we're doing this is we believe a residence hall is a living-learning community," said Alexander. "This new construction and renovation gives us an opportunity to provide space that supports the academic mission of Iowa State.

"We'd like to get faculty and staff involved in that process so we head in the right direction."

Bed counts

The master plan proposes building new apartments for 2,960 students, converting dormitory quadrangles to suites for 960 students, renovating existing dormitory and suite- style space for 2,131 students, and demolishing residence space (dormitories, suites and existing apartments at Hawthorn Court) containing more than 3,000 beds. At the end of the first three years, there will be a net gain of about 50 beds.

New apartments will have amenities such as ceiling fans, dishwasher, washer and dryer, and phone, computer and cable outlets in each bedroom. Renovated suites and dormitory rooms will receive carpet and new furniture. Some existing buildings will be air-conditioned.

Alexander said the ratio of students who live in university housing -- currently about 40 percent -- won't change. The other 60 percent of students live in their own homes, Greek system housing or off-campus rentals. The temporary exception to that mix will be this academic year, because Maple Hall is closed for a previously approved renovation and Phase I new construction won't be completed until fall 1999.

Another key component to the plan is improved dining options. As proposed, the dining centers at Linden, Oak-Elm, Knapp- Storms and Friley halls will close over time and new dining/retail centers will be built in the Hawthorn Court, Union Drive and Richardson Court neighborhoods.

The cost of the housing master plan will be paid by revenue bonds ($95.1 million), the department's annual operating budget ($8.3 million) and $2 million in private gifts. Under the plan, rental rates will be least expensive for unrenovated dormitory rooms. Students will pay higher rates - - by 10 to 20 percent -- for renovated dormitory room, suite and apartment options.

"Today's students want more privacy, more amenities and more services, and a large number have the ability to pay for these extras," President Martin Jischke told the regents last week. "A residence system that offers the range of living options sought by this and future generations of students will be a strategic asset in the increasingly competitive world of student recruitment."

Jischke also spoke of the crucial role the residence department plays in the success of learning communities at Iowa State. He noted that some learning communities have experienced student retention rates of 100 percent.

Phase I

The regents OKed continued planning for Phase I, which calls for constructing new apartments for 1,000 students and a food service facility in Hawthorn Court on the north side of campus, at a cost of $28.6 million. The regents are expected to vote on the master plan at their July meeting in Ames. The meeting will include a tour of residence department facilities.

Three consultant firms developed the master plan, based on a review of the buildings and a market analysis of the residence department's room and food services.

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